Bleary-eyed from the boys bouncing on the bed in gratitude for the chocolate heart lollipops they discovered very early this morning, my husband asked my oldest son what he thought Valentine’s Day was about.

“It’s a day when we build up our hearts.”

Well. Mine nearly burst in my chest when I heard that.

I couldn’t get the thought out of my head and spent the morning thinking about what building up our hearts means in action. Physiologically, our hearts are muscles. We build our muscles by exercising and nourishing them, right? Metaphorically, our hearts are our centre, our emotional engine. Valentine’s Day often is about expressing what is in our hearts to others. What can we do to build up our own hearts so that they’re in good shape for that kind of exercise?

Discover & pursue your passion
PASSION jumps to mind on Valentine’s Day. But I’m thinking the passion that drives you, the passion for something that gets you leaping out of bed in the morning. I believe that when we get acquainted with that passion and invite it out to play we build up our hearts.

Act on your values
Articulating your values is a way of describing what motivates you to “follow your heart”. Do your heart a favour and get to know what your values are. Decide which ones are important to you and commit to staying conscious of them and acting on them. Our hearts feel torn when we’re dealing with conflicting values. Understanding what it means in practice to act on your values and try it out builds up your heart’s ability to manage potential values conflicts.

Tap into your energy
Everything we do we do with energy – whether catabolic (constricting, conflicting, destructive) or anabolic (building, growing, moving forward). By building an understanding of how you use different energy throughout the day in different situations, in response to different triggers, you can choose to act consciously and deliberately and build up your heart with positive energy.

Practice gratitude
I get that feeling of my heart swelling and growing in moments of gratitude – for an unexpected kindness, when discovering an individual’s unique talents, in appreciation of a blue sky, when noticing something thoughtful my kids have done. Taking time to stop and note what I am grateful for builds up my heart. Practicing gratitude consistently every day helps me more easily take notice of things I’m thankful for in my daily life rather than taking them for granted. Practicing gratitude is simple emotional exercise.

I’m grateful my son shared what was in his heart. It made me stop and think about how I want to build up my heart and create more room in there for myself and others.

How will you build up your heart?